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INTERVIEW: Garden Guru Charlotte M. Frieze On "Big Ideas For Small Gardens" And More

Nicole Barylski

Charlotte M. Frieze in her Malibu garden. (Photo: Peter C. Jones)

On Saturday, July 7, East Hampton Library's Tom Twomey Series will host its inaugural garden tour event. Big Ideas for Small Gardens: Lecture and Garden Tour will begin with an illustrated lecture by former garden editor at House & Garden, Charlotte M. Frieze, followed by a self guided exploration of some of East Hampton's petite garden gems.

We spoke with Frieze, who penned Private Paradise, Social Gardens, and The Zone Garden, to learn more.

What is it about gardens in the Hamptons that people find so intriguing?

CF: It's the perfect place to garden because you have beautiful sunlight, good rainfall, and many of the gardens face south so you get good sun all day long.

What topics will you discuss during your lecture?

CF: The lecture will be about taking ideas that you may see in larger gardens and showing how they are also appropriate in small gardens. So, in a small garden it's important to make every bit of your garden work for you. There's a lot of flexibility of use, of dual purpose - so a terrace many also be your nature circulation route. But, your goal is to make it your private world where you can be transported and in a small garden, your neighbors are often nearby so there are more challenges. I will be showing different ways to conquer these challenges.

With smaller gardens, what are some the biggest obstacles people face?

CF: The biggest one is privacy and the second biggest one is your car takes up a lot of your garden space and circulation does as well. If you decide to have a swimming pool, there goes your whole yard. So, planning is key to having a garden that is something that makes you very happy. The whole idea here is to have a garden that is an extension of your home that's an easy flow from indoors/outdoors. In both physical and visual, it's important to bring the garden into the house.

What are some of your garden essentials?

CF: I love roses. All of my gardens have had roses, and I also find it important to have a herb garden near the kitchen so you can always have fresh herbs.

What advice would you offer someone who's looking to spruce up their outdoor space?

CF: I think the first thing is to determine what you want the garden to do for you. And then make a list of things that will make that possible. My lecture addresses many of the different issues - whether it's circulation or privacy, you have to remember you have both visual and sound privacy. To make all the solutions be as a whole so that you have an integrated garden, a garden where you don't have one of this and one of that, but something that works as a whole.

In your opinion, what are some of the most spectacular gardens that you've come across?

CF: Oh my goodness.. I've traveled the world for House & Garden and I saw some really remarkable gardens. Also for my books, Private Paradise, Social Gardens, and The Zone Garden, I traveled to great, gorgeous gardens. But, I'd say that I love being in my own gardens. Whenever I'm away I just want to return to my garden. I don't want to miss a minute in it.

The lecture at East Hampton Library will take place from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m., while the self guided garden tours will be held from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Admission to Tom Twomey Series programming are free, and unlike previous lectures, Big Ideas for Small Gardens will not be taped or live-streamed on Facebook.

East Hampton Library is located at 159 Main Street in East Hampton. For more information, visit tomtwomeyseries.org.

Nicole is the Editor-in-Chief of Hamptons.com where she focuses on lifestyle, nightlife, and mixology. She grew up in the Hamptons and currently resides in Water Mill. www.hamptons.com NicoleBarylski NicoleBarylski

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